frugal fashion shopper

Is age just another number?

A follow-up to my last blog

Apropos my last blog, have you seen the articles in the press castigating Kate Winslet’s US Vogue cover?  Take a look, isn’t she lovely?  But, hang on; she’s also curiously doll-like and unlined.  And where are her moles?  Someone in the Photoshop department sure had a field day, and if this is the so-called Ageless Style….. ?   Umm, nope, doesn’t work for me.

Another thing that doesn’t work for me are the articles on anti-ageing that are illustrated by 30 year olds – *sighs*.  And yes, I did write about that in my last blog.  But here’s why I get so exasperated.  Because, actually, the anti-ageing creams that feature are usually expensive, sometimes very, and what’s more they don’t work – you do age.

My take on all this anti-ageing ‘guff’, is that you can feel good about yourself no matter what age you are, which might include helping your skin to look fresher and feel better than it is.

Here are 5 more tips that cost very little and if not exactly anti-ageing could boost the spirits.  They add to the five I set out in an earlier blog, if you wondering why I start at 6!

6. Dancing  Try dancing.  I love dancing, mainly the 70-80s disco variety.  Any opportunity to dance that kind of dance I’ll take.  Good for the figure and keeping the joints moving!

7. Nail varnish  Lovely to have a bright colour on your nails.

8. The Boots Advantage Card  You have got a Boots Advantage Card, haven’t you?  Because you get extra points once you’re over 60, and they mount up really quickly.  I buy lots with the points and particularly…

9. Night serum  Yes, despite my exasperation with articles about expensive moisturisers, I do use a day and night cream.  However, I simply swear by Estee Lauder’s Advanced Night Repair.  It’s £48 for 30ml but, people, I have never used actual money to buy it.  I save up my points on my Boots Card and get it for free!

10. I’ve just learnt to tweet!  And finally, I do believe in embracing the new including the digital world that’s out there.  I know.  It’s frivolous nonsense etc., etc.  But I just love that interaction with the people I follow on Twitter – who are journalists, mainly.  It’s kind of an intellectual gateway and an opportunity to be there inside the heads of interesting people.  Does that sound odd?  Needn’t be – I just like to know what’s going on in the fashion, business and political world and you can do that so fast these days.  Went to London at the beginning of the week to learn how to use Twitter more effectively.  So if any of you would like to follow me on Twitter I am frugalfashion@pknewhaven.  See you there!

That’s all for now.  Next blog – party frocks and some truly fabulous and fun bargains I’ve bought over the years.

With love


The frugal fashion shopper

P.S. Went to the first conference last Friday.  Invisible Woman has written a great piece on it, which sums it all up for her and for me, too.  Next week – Mirror, Mirror.  Will attempt to take some photos as the Fabulous Fashionistas will be there!


Vogue and the older woman

I’ve recently subscribed to Vogue. I see reading Vogue as similar to studying military history journals when I was editing my dad’s memoir (of his life in the Indian Army).  It’s homework.  Yes, truly, it is!  I check out the current must-buy and what the designers are doing.  It’s a frivolous experience with me going – ‘oh lovely’, ‘wow’, and ‘how beautiful’, tempered somewhat by, in the next second, ‘it’s how much!’  (Although, I have to say there are some reasonably priced clothes within those glossy pages. Next and Florence & Fred for example, in their adverts.)  Then I look at the people who feature in Vogue; this is my sociologist’s eye working.  They’re monied – mainly, iconic – a few, beautiful – some.

And finally, I look at what I should be concentrating on; the editorial and advertising fashion spreads.  I clock the shape & texture of the clothes, I note the hemlines and then I look at the models.  Now they’re not all like this, but many are.  They’re ultra tall, pale, with tousled hair and dark troubled eyes, and thin, oh so thin.  They’re also young, some of them very. Designers, magazine editors, this is meant to sell the clothes?   Well, yes, I can hear them say. Remember the response in the documentary Fabulous Fashionistas?  That Vogue is aspirational.    What did that mean?  I wasn’t sure.  Is it that no one, obviously, aspires to be like an older woman, so we can’t have them modelling in the fashion spreads?  Well huh!  I mean I wonder about that.  Vogue has a circulation of around 220,000 and clearly the over 65s buy the least numbers within that circulation – so, perhaps the proprietor and editor is missing something somewhere, hmm?

Professor Julia Twigg(1) has looked at how older women feature in Vogue by doing a content analysis of every magazine published between 1999 and 2009.  And she found, and I would agree with this, that older women do feature, but not as models of high fashion.  No, we often turn up in the beauty pages, but it would be predominantly a story-line of say, ‘how not to age’ somewhat under-illustrated, as in, with not many images of older women.  Indeed, I swear I saw anti-ageing article in another mag illustrated by what must have been a 30-year-old with not one line on her beautiful skin – sigh, shakes head with exasperation!  And we also appear in articles on ‘decades’, what you might be wearing through the ages or on ‘generations’, mothers and daughters grouped together or there are the items on named, often iconic older individuals. And then there’s apparently, the current oft-repeated idea in Vogue of ‘Ageless Style”.

Now that (Ageless Style) does sound better.  Professor Julia Twigg talks about how older people now are, in fact, seeing their lives, until they become ill or frail that is, as a kind of an extended plateau of middle age.  And an ‘Ageless Style’ is in our grasp, I mean I wander around Urban Outfitters Europe and the clothes set out on the tables are just as much for me as they are for any 20-year-old (well, perhaps not the teeny, torn shorts). But Ageless Style, won’t wash if the images to depict this style are either not there or of botoxed 50-60 year-olds with narry a line on their respective faces.  Where are the ageing faces in the high-end fashion spreads; the older, interesting, sharper, lined faces?

Well, I guess we won’t get them for a while. Although, does anyone see Guardian All Ages?  These often feature one older model, who’s lovely but a bit severe and very thin, so not exactly typical.  What about having someone short and squat and smiley?

One of the most interesting things that Professor Twigg says is that we are at the same point in relation to age as we were in the 1970s to gender.  When I got pregnant in 1976 with my first child I had to resign my post in the Civil Service.  That was the norm in those days, absolutely unthinkable now.

Perhaps, 50 years on, people will look with amazement at the high-end glossies of today, and be astonished at the lack of older models.

My view is no, I don’t see myself as old, you never do, until you look in the mirror on a bad or sometimes even a good day! Otherwise, the ageing and aged are always the people (with apologies to anyone of 82 years reading this) who are 15 years older than oneself.  But I am a baby-boomer, so I do want, no, I demand, recognition, respect and an identity in magazines like Vogue.  If you don’t mind.  This said with an exasperated but emphatic tone of voice!  Not sure how this might come about but it’s early days yet for this ageing demographic – any ideas?

Do let me know if you disagree with me – as in no, you don’t want older women acknowledged in the high-end glossies. Or if have any ideas.

That’s all for now.  No photo of a bargain in this blog but you can go back to a blog on kilts I did earlier this week and find a photo there (click at the top of the page).

With love to you all


The frugal fashion shopper

(1) Fashion Theory, Volume 14, Issue 4, pp 471-490 How does Vogue Negotiate Age?: Fashion, the Body and the Older Woman.

 P.S. Did you spot the spelling mistakes in my last but one blog – oops – I corrected them quite quickly thanks to someone who saw them.  Thank you again, you know who you are!


Kilts – this season’s take on what is usually a very traditional piece of apparel.

As promised I’m commenting on the kilt.  I’ve just watched Jess Cartner-Morley’s video on kilts and she’s made some useful comments on how to wear them this season.  Kilts, she says, are very much about wearing a statement skirt but they can also be a bit punk, a bit St.Trinians – OK, that’s interesting.  (Actually, before I move on, for those of you reading this blog outside the UK, St Trinians is a fictitious girls’ school that featured in a series of 50s films whose older pupils invariably wore short-skirted school uniforms.)

Perhaps, the most useful thing Jess Cartner-Morley says is that kilts usually have three elements:

i) pleats, ii) a buckle and of course, iii) tartan.   And what you should do is take at least one of those away, so that the skirt is not such an in-your-face ‘proper’ kilt.

The video then goes on to show several mouth-watering kilts, as in lovely to look at, but oh dear the prices: a Versace for £895, a JW Anderson for £385, a Karen Millen for £99, better.  The cheapest is an Asos for £30, but tiny, as in sooo very, very short. To be fair, the Guardian website also shows a gallery of high street priced kilts for those of us who can’t afford the designer prices.

jacket-&-skirt-20smHowever, here is my attempt at ‘the kilt’ with, two of those elements missing.  It’s in a kind of a tartan and has a frilly underskirt, plus what you might call, bo-peep pockets. Made by Per Una it was bought for £7.00 in a town near where I live.  Here it is matched up with my favourite jacket.

That’s all for now, but coming up next is my look at ageism in the high-end glossy magazines.

With love


The frugal fashion shopper

P.S.   Did you know it’s British Wool week this week.  Wool, I just love it, so there will be a blog on woolly jumpers, but later on in the winter.

P.P.S And finally Hadley Freeman has just had the last word on the pink coat – very funny.


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Coats. Another style statement to make for next to nothing!

Fashion, as I’ve said in a previous blog, is ridiculous.  But, take note, apparently the new season trends are fluffy jumpers and kilts.  Oh, I like a bit of tartan in the winter!   Anyway, although I will return to comment on the kilt I have written rather a lot of blogs about skirts.  So this blog is all about coats.

This Autumn the on-trend coat is a pink one, and I’ve given you a link to quite a reasonably priced version of this season’s so-called must buy.   But I’ve never bought a new coat.  Well, perhaps in the past when I was much younger I may have bought a coat or two from the high street.  Now, though, it’s charity shops for coats and what bargains I’ve found!!

If you’re short of cash and your budget is tight, promise me something, don’t ever buy a new coat.  I have around 7 coats bought, I hasten to add, over several years, and have never spent more than £15.00 on any one of them.

It all started in the 1980s with a buy from a fusty old junk shop in the North Laines in Brighton.  There hanging on the rail was a black swagger coat made from that curly lambs wool which was so fashionable in the 30s and 40s.  Now, with our sensibilities changed towards fur, perhaps I wouldn’t have bought it but, buy it I did and it’s a classic.  I don’t wear this coat much these days but when I do I can see it’s beautifully cut and looks sensational – the price, I think was around £15.00, which was a lot in those days.

Then there are the two coats that I call my London coats.  These were bought more recently for £15.00 each.  One is a classic camel-hair coat bought in a charity shop in Seaford, another is a dark grey coat bought in Lewes, which features in Lorna’s film.  Both are long and each has a matching hat sourced from different charity shops for under a fiver.


But perhaps I am more on-trend than I thought as I already have two pink coats!  A Next coat bought for £14.00 in pink tweed, with a lovely silky lining, which I often wear with a pink beret.  I usually wear this in Brighton.

And my most recent buy is another, almost retro, pinkish tweed coat bought for £12.99 in the Vintage section of a Brighton charity shop, which I also wear with the pink beret.   Here I am outside the V&A in London wearing the outfit.


But neither of these coats is particularly warm, so, when it’s freezing cold, I wear a long Rocha padded cream coat that zips up from top to bottom.  This was bought about five years ago for only £3.00 – wow, you can get some amazing bargains from charity shops in my home town – I highly recommend them!

However, even though this £3.00 Rocha coat, with its beautiful deep faux fur collar and cuffs, is the warmest, toastiest coat I’ve ever had, it has a fatal flaw – it doesn’t have a hood.  As Hadley Freeman said last winter, hoods on coats should be a ‘non-negotiable essential on winter coats….’ Hear, hear, Hadley!  Hence, my last and seventh coat bought in Brighton at Oxfam three years ago for a fiver; a hooded Per Una green parka.  In the cold weather I wear this all the time and love it to bits.  I also have a fleece and two macs: one red and one light brown and don’t start me on my jackets – that’s another blog altogether!

With love


The frugal fashion shopper

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